Bengaluru FC launch ‘Care Around The Corner’ initiative for mental health awareness

On World Mental Health Day, Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC launched the ‘Care Around The Corner’ initiative – the club’s programme to raise awareness on the issue of mental health. The Blues have a tie-up with Scottish giants Rangers FC, who will bring in experts to explain mental health to the team and the support staff at the club.

“Realising that there is a problem is the first hurdle. And to have professionals available who can address the issue. There is limited awareness on the subject. It’s hard to understand what a person is going through, maybe something from his personal life that spills on to the professional front or the other way around,” Bengaluru FC CEO Mr. Mandar Tamhane told Vice while discussing the club’s new initiative.

Youngster Suresh Singh Wangjam, who enjoyed a strong run of form in Carles Cuadrat’s first team in Hero ISL 2019-20, shared one of his challenging experiences from last season when he conceded a penalty against ATK FC in the second leg of Bengaluru’s semi-final clash.

“It hurts me even today because that penalty gave them the momentum,” said Wangjam. “After the game, I spoke to my father and friends back home in Manipur to tell them how bad I was feeling.”

Custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also spoke about some of the difficulties he faced as a youngster after a bad day at the office. “I couldn’t see myself in the mirror for days and cried, but no one saw that. As a young player, you keep blaming yourself, though over time, I have learnt better coping mechanisms. Not sharing your feelings can be toxic for your mental health and it’s okay to talk to others about it,” he shared.

Gurpreet has since gone on to talk about his feelings and experiences with professionals and encouraged others to do the same. “As a society we create this stigma that it’s a bad thing to visit a professional. Let me tell you it isn’t. It’s the most normal thing, just like going to your barber. A mental health expert at the club will be an opportunity to have a better understanding about yourself,” he said.

“As men and football players, we are always told to be strong and not feel anything. I think it is important to have a safe, non-judgmental space at a professional club, so that players can be vulnerable,” Gurpreet asserted.

Moreover, since the upcoming season is set to take place in Goa behind closed doors, Gurpreet likes the idea of having a professional with the team. “It’s tough mentally to cope with such a huge change (of playing in one venue), so I’m confident that a professional being part of the team will help,” he said.

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